I was fortunate to attend the 2013 National Science Teachers Summer School at the Australian National University during the January school holidays. With 45 other K-12 teachers from all states and systems it was a wonderful week of collegiality, sharing and workshops and presentations on everything from astronomy and nuclear physics to plant science and geology.
However one of the highlights of a week filled with many was attending the National Youth Science Forum dinner at Albert Hall with the ninety odd incoming year 12 students selected to attend one of the three Forum weeks. The students were selected through a rigorous Rotary selection process and had demonstrated a commitment to science, their studies and learning. Previous alumni spoke confidently and Professor Steve Simpson gave a keynote that ended with the very appropriate reminder that all of the sciences are equally important to mankind and human endeavour and we should value them all.
Not only did the students share waiting duties during the reception and main course, they shared our tables and openly talked about their interests and plans. One student, Michelle from South Australia had recently returned from the UK where her school team had won the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge for their car’s design and testing. Michelle was enthusiastic, confident and we swapped business cards in the hope that we can support each other’s future learning endeavours. The students were genuinely interested in “us old teachers” and many in our group commented on what an uplifting and refreshing experience the night had been. It was a real highlight!
Australia’s science and technology future is in good hands as long as we support and resource the Sciences adequately so as to ensure quality higher education, access and equity, and relevant high calibre courses.
As I say to my primary (and secondary) students… you are the adventurers, scientists and engineers of tomorrow. If NASA gets someone onto Mars in 2030 as planned then that astronaut is most likely at school somewhere in the world right now! What an exciting time to be a school student!